Emotional Clutter

by Marlene DeVere

The Valentine box that once held the most delicious candy, as well as so much promise, is now empty.  But the memory of the cardboard heart still lingers in my mind and remains hidden somewhere in the garage. I simply cannot bear to throw it out. Maybe it’s time to be recycled? The still pristine heart-shaped box draped in red satin and decorated with a voluptuous bow has been protected inside a larger box since my husband gave it to me on Valentine’s Day, too many years ago to count. 

Every once and a while, I take inventory of my space, although mainly I’m just reassembling the clutter, and find that heart. I always seem to be surprised when I discover it again. I gingerly open the protective box as if I didn’t know what was inside, and then trace the outline of the heart, feel the silkiness of the satin, and marvel at its beautiful bow. There, for just a moment, I’m transported to that time when we were so in love with one another. Oh, if only we had a second chance at that feeling, instead of the heartache that developed between my memory and the reality of us now. 

I really should recycle this empty box, but I just don’t have the heart. Instead I’ll return it to another area in the garage to be hidden again and forgotten. Until next year.


Marlene DeVere is retired from a career in teaching, broadcast journalism, and advertising. A native Chicagoan, she has lived in most sections of the country and in the Middle East. She is now living in Tucson, Arizona, rewriting her life along with a collection of short stories. She has published in Lalitamba Literary Journal, tiny essays, Scarlet Leaf Review and The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature.  

person holding heart shaped gift


  1. Felt that emotional clutter. Heartbreaking! Enough as it is, but could even begin a novel. Got my interest! That line, “I don’t have the heart” was especially good.


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